An excerpt from UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE
Adapted from Chapter 7: The First Formal Meditation: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There and Breathe
Have you ever noticed how taking things personally not only keeps us stuck in our misery, but adds to it?
When we understand that our reactions are not who we truly are, it’s safe to relate to ourselves with more curiosity, kindness and acceptance. Taking things personally intensifies the experience, and we’re destined to feel even worse! Like sticky Velcro, there’s a satisfaction in peeling ourselves away from this attachment to thinking it’s all about ME.
One student observed that while mindfully bringing attention to a painful sensation in her neck, she felt defeated. She said, “It showed me how rigid and uptight I am. I’m always closed and resisting things. I’m so judgmental and critical. And I’ve always been like this!” Although her direct physical experience was neck pain, she added painful interpretations that she was rigid, critical and judgmental. By identifying with the pain she added a great deal of misery to her experience.
In a recent private session, I reminded a client that a guilty feeling is simply a conditioned reaction of the mind; that she was not her guilt and it does not define who she is. With this, she was able to give the feeling more space and freedom.
These examples show us that with mindfulness, we relate to our present moment experience from the viewpoint that emotions and reactions are formed from conditions that are continuously arising and passing away, changing moment by moment, and essentially, beyond our control.
- Observe and softly note your present moment experience
- Practice taking the “I” out of it: “I’m irritated. I’m outraged. I’m sad. I’m upset”…
- Say to yourself instead: “Here’s irritation. Here’s the feeling of outrage. Sadness is here. Here’s feeling upset.”
- Notice how this allows you to step back and observe what’s happening, and make a more skillful response.
When certain conditions come together we feel anger, fear, guilt, or sadness. When other conditions arise we might feel joy, calmness, or delight. We are all subject to these experiences, it’s just being human!
By learning to dis-identify with our direct experience we create less attachment and more kindness, curiosity and acceptance. This instantly creates more space, which naturally allows us to see into the conditions that caused it, making it easier to
let it be and let it go
A Practice for Not Taking Things Personally
Drop In frequently throughout the day:
- Breathe three breaths, mindfully.
- Softly note your experience without attaching the personal “I” (Choose wording such as “Here’s irritation. Here’s the feeling of outrage. Sadness is here. Here’s feeling upset”)
- Ask yourself for a wise and kind response.
- Follow your own advice. Notice the effect.
May you be happy. May you be well, May you trust you are enough.